Timetwister: A Story in Reverse

Okay we all know about those community stories where each person posts the next part of the story. This is like that, except the story starts at the end and goes backwards.

Rule (There's only one)
The end of your post must transition into the beginning of the previous poster's.

Post n: David glanced down; the robot's severed head lay on the ground, sparking eloquently. He shuddered in silence.
Post n+1: She swung the crowbar into the back of the robot's head, a shatter of sparks raining upon the concrete. "Are you okay?" she inquired.

Post n: David glanced down; the robot's severed head lay on the ground, sparking eloquently. He shuddered in silence.
Post n+1: Jesus flew down from heaven and removed chinchillas from the world.

Post length and writing style don't matter, so you don't have to write much if you don't want to. Trying to screw with the next poster is acceptable and encouraged. Dialogue must work properly. If your post fails to follow the rule, then the next poster should ignore it and proceed normally (just say so).

Don't worry about proper storytelling, because this whole thing would be really lame if we hit the climax immediately and then have to go downhill from there (or maybe not! We'll see). Do at least try to make the story make sense, though. We'll see how long it can go on before everything goes to hell.

The name of the story is Timetwister. Please participate, and good luck!

They stood at the edge of the cape, looking out over the water. The setting sun was reflected in the bay, glistening with a million tiny sparkles. The meteors were falling again; they shimmered in the soft glow of the setting sun.

"This whole ordeal would have been a lot easier if we had only known what the meteors meant from the very beginning. Looking at them now, they're almost beautiful," said Vanessa, enchanted.

"Next time something like this happens, we won't be so naive. We'll be ready," said David.

"But there won't be a next time," Vanessa sighed.

He smiled. "No," he said. "If only we knew."

They were silent for a moment, watching the sunset play out before them in a display of brilliant color. The meteors signaled the sun's last refrain, never to rise again.

"To the end of time?" asked David, looking into her eyes.

"To the end of time."

They drew close, locked in embrace as the last of the meteors fell to earth.

Game Design Discussion of the Week: Status Effects

It seems like status effects in RPGs are an amazingly difficult gameplay point to actually get working properly. Everyone would agree that they add a lot of gameplay depth, due to having status-effect oriented monsters, equips that prevent them, spell variety, et cetera.

But it always seems like there's only one or two monsters in the game that even deal with certain status effects. Why bother having a berserk if only one enemy can berserk you? Too many status effects is a bad thing, because each one seems so foreign when it happens. Then there's the deal of too many status-effect cure items, and too many spells. Or the dreadful "Cures level one status effects" spells where you never quite know if the status effect you want to cure is level one or level two.

But too few status effects is boring. And the player rarely ever gets to use cool status effect spells effectively.

So what are some thoughts on this? How many status effects is the right amount? How do you like your status effect cure items/spells? Should status effects stay after battle? Player spells that cause status effects: can they be done without breaking game balance?

Song identification

I don't really know where to put this, so...

I played Jay's Journey a long time ago, and I liked a couple of the songs he had in there. But then later I finally played Earthbound (Winters music) and Terranigma (Crysta) and learned where he got those songs. But there's one song I've never encountered anywhere else, and would like to know what it is:


RM2k Forest Tiles

No one is going to know the answer to this, but you know how in the chipsets for RM2k you have the forest, which looks something like this:

o O

Basically a 3x4 grid of various forest tiles? They have it for the mountains and other stuff too. Well the translation from your image into the actual tiles on the screen uses some sort of voodoo magic where each in-game tile is split into four corners, selected from various tiles here. And I can only see vague patterns in the algorithm. Does anyone know how this works?

Stat Differentiation

Okay, this is something that's plagued me for awhile now, but HP and Defense are essentially the same stat. Yes, there are plenty of subtle differences, but when it comes right down to it, gaining a point in HP and gaining a point in Def serve the exact same purpose: you live longer before you die.

Now, okay, you might say something like "What about a low HP, high Def monster?" Well, how is it any different from a high HP, low Def monster? It still takes just as long to kill, and what its actual health number is doesn't matter. You might also say that HP is for both physical and magical resistance, and Def is only physical. But that's just complicating the issue. Because you're going to have some sort of magic resistance stat, too, and then why give a few points in HP rather than just one point in Def and Res? Or you might say that low HP, high Def benefits more from heal spells, but that's a really weak argument.

Quite frankly, what it comes down to is that HP is the weaker stat, and it's much better to have high Def/Res and low HP than it is to have high HP and low Def/Res. All this depends on balance, of course (it would be really easy to make HP worth more than Def/Res, just edit the formulas).

The standard solution is to simply make HP AND Def/Res increase every level and be done with it. Your tanks get high HP and high Def, your mages get low HP and low Def, and you'll have like a berserker with high HP and low Def (and honestly that just equates to medium HP, medium Def). So why bother with HP at all?

I can only come up with a few reasons:

One, in collection-based games where leveling up isn't as important as finding cool stuff, HP and Def can have different methods of going up, which adds a cool feeling to the game and gives you more to collect. Like you collect HP stones to get HP and get Def when you level up, or get HP on levels but have to find new armor for Def.

Two, Fire Emblem. FE has the lovely weapon triangle which is actually pretty deeply tied to stats. Swords are weak, fast, and high critical, which works perfectly against the high HP, low Def axes; they can deal a lot of damage since they don't have to deal with enemy Def (and critical x3 damage is very effective). Whereas axes are high attack power, low hit rate, which works great against the defensive spear units, since their attack power can overcome the high defense and their low hit rates don't matter because the spears are just that slow. And then spears are awesome against swords because swords can't break their defense, and swords don't have enough HP to deal with getting hit by a spear. The point here is that axes get HP and spears get Def, and because of the Att - Def damage system, they work fundamentally differently.

Three, Att - Def damage systems. This ties into the above, but if you think of a game like Paper Mario, a point in Def is pretty much an entirely different animal from a point in HP. But in Paper Mario, you never actually leveled up Defense directly, which I guess goes back to the first point.

I've toyed with the idea of just making HP constant throughout the game (Max HP = 100), and only using a Def stat. Is there any good reason not to do this?

And another point, when speed's primary purpose is to determine how often you can attack, how is it any different from Att or Mag? I mean, yeah, having them both in good balance will equate to maximum damage, but why should a game designer force the player to work with that? When they want to deal more damage, they're going to put points in whatever they think will help them do that best. Why give them two options that lead to the same result? I guess this is a more intricate issue, because light, fast characters feel like they play differently from huge, clunky powerhouses. Honestly, though, it's all the same.

Just wondering if anyone else has thought about this.

Jabbo here

I guess I probably ought to make one of these intro threads if I plan on actually posting every now and then. I'm Jabbo, and I guess I've actually been in on the whole RPG Maker thing for a long time (I caught the tail end of RM95 before 2k was released and translated). I'm also one of the least active members of the RM community.

I have pretty strong opinions on game design, such as "Random Encounters = I WILL NOT PLAY YOUR GAME." I also consider myself one of the best game designers in this community who hasn't even bothered to TRY making a game in RPG Maker. It's just not good enough for my purposes, I suppose (I'm also arrogant). Still, I love RM games and I feel like I'm a part of the RM community even if no one knows who I am.

I'm a 19-year old Comp Engineering major from South Carolina, although I don't think I would be your go-to-guy in terms of programming knowledge. I also like to improv on the piano and I write music as a hobby.

Right now I'm working on a game engine, Equinox, which is basically RPG Maker 2000 without some of the most noticeable limitations. It includes freeform movement (instead of snap-to-grid) and all events are edited by script (it's not complicated scripting and looks a lot like graphic calculator BASIC). You can also choose your charset and tileset dimensions, as well as screen resolution. I'm writing it in Java (yeah, I know, but I don't have a choice of languages right now), and it's coming along nicely. It's probably about half done, and the biggest thing left is allowing for online multiplayer (again, I don't know how well this is going to work, but I don't have a choice right now). The goal is to be able to do basically anything while still making it as easy or easier to do than RM2k. Once it's finished, this community will be the first to know.

So yeah, RMN is a pretty awesome community and it's probably about time I started participating (You'll notice I made my account almost a year ago, and my first post yesterday). So expect me to post every now and then and write a few articles, but I make no promises of being a very active member. Hopefully once I get Equinox finished, I'll be able to use it to make some games of my own.
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